The story went like this. Chad Ochocinco was doing everything in his power to get traded from Cincinnati during the offseason before the 2008 NFL season. As a result, the future of Chad's role with the Bengals became very unclear with the suspicion that T.J. Houshmandzadeh was approaching his final season in Cincinnati -- where people have the gull to ask for autographs on the street. So the Bengals drafted three wide receivers in Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Mario Urrutia.
Chad eventually returned to the fold, Houshmandzadeh played the final year of his career in Cincinnati and the Bengals brought Chris Henry back. Simpson played in six games in 2008, recording one reception for two yards. After the season, Houshmandzadeh left for Cincinnati and the team had an opening on the wide receiver depth, which seemed like an opportunity allow the younger receivers increased playing time to continuing developing. Then the Bengals signed Laveranues Coles. At the time we wrote:
So our question is this, where does that leave the wide receivers that we drafted last year? If there was ever a season in which we should give Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell a lot of playing time to learn and grow, it would be now. There's a better argument that we're not expecting this team to make the playoffs in 2009 -- too much needs to perfectly fall into place, and we're simply not built to be competitive against the Steelers and Ravens right now. So why not move the receivers into a role that gives them playing time to develop so when the Bengals are ready for a playoff run a few years from now, Caldwell and Simpson aren't just ready, they're established.
Nailed my playoff prediction, right? Simpson would only be active in two games in 2009, accumulating no receptions at all. It would take him until the 14th game of the season, against the Cleveland Browns, before he made any contributions on offense. In the past two games, Simpson has eight receptions for 154 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
During a press conference in late April in 2009, head coach Marvin Lewis admitted that the Bengals failed Simpson. Chick Ludwig wrote at the time that the Bengals "buried the second-round draft pick from Coastal Carolina behind Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry" instead of getting Simpson on the field.
During Sunday's post-game press conference, Marvin Lewis made the same admission. When asked why Jerome Simpson hasn't played earlier, Lewis said:
"We don't get to suit everybody up. The times we've had him suited up, we just didn't get him into the plan until late, and it's my fault. We had it planned a week ago to get him in there ready to go, and that's just what you’ve got to do. Otherwise it's hard on the people making play calls, not being sure who’s in the game or where he is. You get into the substitution problems with the guys that are not quite as experienced because they are not sure who is on the field at different times."
The Bengals are doing the right thing by getting Simpson some reps and the person that could benefit most out of this resurging youth movement is Carson Palmer.